Photos by Lukas Gates. Graphic by Rebecca Hirsh.

Humans of Whitman

January 3, 2019

Photographer Brandon Stanton started the Humans of New York project in 2010. Traveling around New York taking photos of strangers on the streets and interviewing them to gather their stories, Stanton compiled his photojournalism in a book titled “Humans of New York,” published in October 2013. This article follows a similar format for students at Whitman, spanning various grades, genders, and experiences. All photos by Lukas Gates.

May Kalnik, 11th Grade


What are your plans and hopes for the future?


“I plan to go to college and then get a job. I’m ready for college; I’m so done with high school. I just want a change of pace. I want to start a new life, have a fresh start.”


Jordan Shaibani, 11th Grade


What are your plans and hopes for the future?


“My dad is like, ‘you can do whatever you want as long as you’re an engineer first.’ I would like to be working in policy or government, but realistically—the way my dad has planned my life—it’s a lot of STEM. I’d want to do some sort of policy thing, especially with a focus on minority relationships. There’s a lot of discrimination that goes by, and people don’t understand what they can do and what they’re doing wrong. [My interest] might’ve been sparked when I came to Whitman from a school in Los Angeles that had a lot more minorities. I couldn’t find anyone who looked like me.”

Anna Salafsky, 9th Grade


As a freshman, do you think this year has been a big change for you? How do you hope you’ll have changed by the end of high school?


“I definitely feel like I’m older. This has been a big change, but I still feel like I’m pretty young and in the beginning. I want to become more independent and self-reliant [by the end of high school] because I feel like it’s easy for me to surround myself with other people. It would be better if I could do things on my own. There’s so many people around me right now, so it’s easy to rely on them. But when you go off to college, you have to do things yourself.”

Sam Nickerson, 10th Grade


You’re taking Journalism this year. Do you trust what you read in the news?


“I want to be able to trust the news, but it’s kind of hard with everything that’s going around. I try to put as much trust into it as possible, but I don’t think I can 100 percent trust everything I read. It’s easy to fabricate facts, especially when you could say something that’s slightly fabricated, but it sounds so much more interesting and could click so much more with people.”

Leo Suber, 10th grade


What is something you’re interested in that you see yourself pursuing in the future?


“Computer programming is really interesting and it’s one of the few jobs that probably won’t go away. It’s complex and like learning a new language. I’m hoping to program video games. I feel like I’m way too much of a gamer for my own good, and I don’t think anyone else actually plays as many video games as I do.”

Clarissa Branson, Leyla Ülkü, Lucy Goldberg, 10th Grade


What would you change if you had to go back to middle school?


Leyla: “I’d try to make more friends. I didn’t have a lot of friends in that period, and that helped fuel my depression. It was like a spiral, and I clinged to some people. I’d try to be more chill, less clingy and try to open my mind to new people.”


Lucy: “I’d try to be more involved in things, whether it’s reading more of the news or doing debate. That’s a thing that I wish I did in middle school, because I remember a big part of seventh grade was being like, ‘Oh, my life doesn’t really have any purpose. What am I doing? What do I want to do?’”


Clarissa: “I guess I haven’t really changed that much since seventh grade. In sixth and seventh grade I was kind of ignorant and naive, despite the fact that I listened to the news everyday on the radio. I was living in a bubble. What was actually happening in our government and outside in the world, I didn’t know about that stuff. I wish that I would’ve been more open-minded and seen what was happening.”

An earlier version of this article incorrectly spelled Leyla’s name. The story has been updated with the correct spelling.

Aubrey Lay, 12th grade


Tell me about your favorite extracurricular at the moment. How did you get involved in it?


“Walt Whitman Pride Alliance is very important to me. I’ve been involved in Pride since freshman year. It’s been pretty incredible to both take part in the Whitman LGBT community and provide a space for other people to take part in. It makes me really happy to know that I’m taking part in this chain that extends far behind me and will extend far ahead of me, fingers crossed. I got involved because we used to meet in the courtyard and I was on Crew freshman year; I was waiting around for the bus to pick us up for practice, and I walked in and everyone was really friendly. And I kept going. I quit Crew, but I’m still in Pride.”

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Photo of Isabel Hoffman
Isabel Hoffman, Feature Writer


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Music, hiking

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I love writing and I care about the news.

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  • L

    leyla ulkuFeb 2, 2019 at 7:05 pm

    leyla is smexy